Elysium

I went to see Elysium. This really is the summer of sci-fi, it seems, and I was especially excited about this movie because of the title. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that my father got me hooked on mythology as a kid. His idea of fairytales was reading me passages from Bulfinch’s Mythology before I was old enough to read. He and my mother even had a small boat they named Elysium.

I thought the movie was good but not—excuse the bad pun—heavenly. It was way more action than sci-fi, and I’m a sci-fi fan. The action and special effects were pretty awesome, though. Matt Damon did an excellent job, as did Diego Luna, whom I recognized from The Terminal. I went nuts trying to place where I knew Sharlto Copley from before I finally got home and looked him up. He was in another, very different sci-fi film: District 9.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think this was one of Jodie Foster’s best acting jobs. She was going for a French accent and didn’t quite pull it off, and the result was a slow speech pattern that contrasted badly with the rest of the movie’s speedy pace. They didn’t really need to lay on the political message about immigration quite so thick either, especially since the physics of the movie’s setting sort of worked against them. After all, if Elysium is a space station, then it has limited oxygen, water, etc. If thousands of people from Earth all emigrate up there, won’t that kill everybody? Please don’t read anything political into my statement; I’m just saying. This isn’t like squeezing an extra person on the elevator. In this case, everyone is going to asphyxiate.

One of the most interesting parts about the movie was the type of hero played by Matt Damon. He wasn’t a super-soldier, and he wasn’t out to save the world. Nothing much went right for him, either. (Stop reading here if you don’t want any spoilers, though I won’t blow the ending). And I mean nothing. From a workplace accident to a data heist gone wrong to getting stabbed in the first real fight scene, he has terrible luck throughout the whole movie. In a strange way, I felt like that made him much more relatable than these heroes who seem to manage the impossible at every turn.

I’m not sure if maybe I’d be raving about Elysium more if it had been a more uplifting film. This was a dystopia movie, though, so I suppose I should have realized it would be dark and violent and depressing. At least it wasn’t too gory. Every time I worried they’d show me more than I wanted to see, they stopped just short of crossing that line.

Anyone else see Elysium? What did you think? Are our sci-fi movies becoming indistinguishable from action movies? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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